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Father Lopez takes down Eagles in OT

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By Jenna McKenna

Bronson slid to .500 while playing their best football yet. Now 3-3, the Eagles dueled Daytona's Father Lopez to a standstill before falling 27-21 in overtime. This, against a team that clobbered them 56-12 last year.

"We grew up a little today," said Bronson head coach Al Cooksey. "With so much losing behind us, we have to build a culture where we expect to win."

As in the week before against a depleted Trenton team, the Eagles came out cold in the first half and dug themselves a 14-6 hole against the Green Wave. Returning in the second half to play the kind of football that wins games, they hustled back and briefly led 21-14 with three minutes remaining, before allowing a 60-yard scoring drive that forced the OT.

Lopez received the opening kickoff and launched a seven-minute drive that ended with Jared Cianfrocca punching over the goal line for a touchdown.

Kyle Mowen was next to score for the Green Wave in a drive that started with four offsetting penalties on the punt return. Lopez started the ball on the Bronson 30 and needed only three tries to get Mowen the last nine yards into the end zone.

Finally, with 30 seconds remaining in the half, Bronson found inspiration. After putting together fewer than 15 yards of offense so far, a 65-yard touchdown pass from Kelby Barber to Rodolfo Contreras got the Eagles into the end zone and on the scoreboard. The point after kick failed, and Bronson went to the break trailing 14-6.

A different Eagle team returned for the third quarter, and began to stack up first downs and play tough defense. Bronson stuffed a Lopez drive on the Eagle 34 when the line closed up the middle and Virgil Greenlee tackled C.J. Walker for no gain, causing Lopez to turn the ball over on downs.

From that spot, the Eagles launched a drive that wrapped into the fourth quarter and saw Barber hit tight end Mike Reza over the middle for 13 yards and a critical first down.

Inside the 20, Contreras and Barber hammered out the short yardage until, from the 10, Barber found Jesse Waybright in the left end zone for another touchdown. Going for two on the PAT, Barber kept the ball and got in, tying the score with nine minutes left in the game.

Lopez started another drive, which Bronson snuffed when Mike Knapp forced a fumble and Greenlee scooped it up. C.J. King had a 15-yard catch that got the ball up over the 35, but the drive looked like it might stall at midfield. Barber found a crucial hole at fourth and inches, and next play, handed off to Contreras for a 53-yard romp to the end zone. Raymie Powers' point after kick was good, and Bronson led 21-14.

After an unsuccessful attempt at recovering an onside kick at the kickoff, the Eagles had to try to stop a Lopez drive that started near the Green Wave 40. Unfortunately, in one of the fastest drives of the game, Lopex moved the ball 60 yards in under four minutes, finishing with a four-yard TD run by Cianfrocca. The score was tied with Eric Roberson's kick, sending the game into overtime.

Each team had four untimed downs to score, starting from the 15-yard line. Bronson didn't, giving the ball up after Barber was brought down at the four yard-line. Lopez did, using two tries to get Mowen into the end zone, and ending the contest at 27-21 Green Wave.

"That's two weeks in a row we've come out flat," Cooksey said afterward. "We fought in the second half, though. I'm proud of our second half effort. That second half was our best effort of the year."

Bronson has an open date next week, which makes Cooksey happy.

"We can get back and work on some fundamentals, get in the weight room, run, work on agility, then get off early," he said.

It will also be a chance for some nagging injuries to heal.

"We're so thin lately, we can't rest people, can't rotate guys in and out," said Cooksey.

Defensive tackle Markus White, also a valuable blocker on offense, has been out with an ankle injury, but should return in time for the next game, when Bronson travels to St. Augustine to take on St. Joseph Academy.

Stats:

Offensive leaders:

Rodolfo Contreras, rushing: 16/102, 1 TD; receiving: 1/70, 1 TD

Jesse Waybright, receiving: 2/19, 1 TD

Kelby Barber, 6-11 passing, 128 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT

Defensive leaders:

Jesse Waybright: 3 tackles, 10 assists

Mike Knapp: 2 tackles, 2 assists, 1 fumble caused

Virgil Greenlee: 4 tackles, 4 assists, 1 fumble recovered

Rodolfo Contreras: 2 tackles, 4 assists

Willie Ellison: 1 tackle, 4 assists

Kelby Barber: 4 assists

Bronson football players of the week:

Offense, Rodolfo Contreras

Defense, Kelby Barber (as defensive back)